Arrow Player New Arrivals for Month of September: “Jumbo,” “Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch,” Pete Walker Collection and More
Arrow Video’s subscription on-demand video streaming service, Arrow Player, is about to close out its first year since premiering in October of 2020 with one hell of an announcement slate for Month 11 of its service.
At the top of the list is Zoé Wittock’s directorial debut Jumbo, starring Noémie Merlant as Jeanne, an introverted, eccentric & creative girl who starts working at an amusement park after hours and becomes drawn to the park’s new attraction, embarking on an otherworldly relationship. Jeanne lives with her mother Margarette, played by Emmanuelle Bercot, who struggles with her own romantic challenges and feels a connection to her daughter that isn’t exactly as mutual as she thinks.
The film explores themes that many romantic dramas have thoroughly mined, but it does things a little different: Jeanne becomes infatuated with someone at the amusement park however, where this would weave a yarn of a love affair with someone from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s instead focused on Jeanne’s attraction, pardon the pun, to the titular amusement park ride (officially, the ride is branded Move It, which seems a little too forward for a girl like Jeanne).
Jumbo has a feeling of smart self-awareness to it and Wittock’s script knows its audience, who will no doubt identify with Jeanne’s journey. Those who do find kinship with her will find comfort in its mish-mash of genre conventions and viewers will find parallels with struggles to communicate the need to be seen and respected. Jumbo will be available to stream on Arrow Player starting September 1st.
Another new title dropping on the 1st of the month is Noriaki Yuasa’s Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch. Yuasa is known for helming the majority of Showa-era Gamera films starting in 1965. In 1968, he took a break from the other big green to make Snake Girl.
Yuasa has a knack for directing his adolescent characters with emphasis on innocence, and a natural drive for earnestness that pierce the grown-up characters’ hidden need for secrecy. Yachie Matsui plays Sayuri, a girl who reunites with her real parents after being orphaned most of her life. Her father is a herpetologist who keeps a variety of snakes in the house for his studies, and her mother has amnesia following an accident she’s been recovering from for months. Upon staying the night, she begins to notice strange things around the house: someone spying her through a hole in the wall, behind their altar of Buddha, and snakes slithering out of holes scattered around the house.
Yuasa employs a delectable swirling pastiche of mystery, a spooky house, and delightfully concocted monster-centric imagery not altogether unfamiliar to the whimsical style of Yōkai: 100 Monsters or Hausu. The visual stylings become self-indulgent in mesmerizing ways as the film goes on.
What is the most impressive about it is how it changes gears in almost a sudden move yet is executed so deftly to merge seamlessly from something so starkly fantastical. It picks up on some earlier traces of giallo to bring new energy to the back half and shows reverence to its Yōkai leanings, as if translated from the Italian imagery so iconic to its genre. Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch is not a film to be missed.